Okay I must admit that when I heard about this book coming into existence I must say I was rather excited, hell, it was more than that it was like sliced bread. Doctor Sleep for those who aren’t aware, is the sequel, of sorts, to The Shining, one of the best books Mr King has written in my humble opinion. I would go on record to say that all horror fans know the story of The Shining, either the King novel or the famous movie with Jack Nicholson which is based on the book. For this reason alone I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. And ultimately disappointed. Maybe I had built my hopes and expectations up too much and was reading it from a sentimental nostalgic point of view. Maybe I expected something more from a writer who has grown in talent over the years. Whatever the reason Doctor Sleep just didn’t do it for me and like a lot of sequels you just get the feeling that you should leave it alone. Let us remember and revisit the original story our way, with the admiration for The Shining that it so dearly deserves.
Doctor Sleep introduces a grown up Dan Torrance, alcoholic like his father before him, propensity for meanness like his father and with a lot of traits that you can put down to his time spent in the Overlook Hotel one fateful winter. Going from town to town he finds himself in New Hampshire where he works at a local hospice as an orderly. There he helps people who are at death’s door relax and come to terms with their plight and so help them across to the other side. Meanwhile close by a young girl called Abbie, a girl who also has the same gifts as Dan but on a much more powerful level, discovers a picture in a local paper of a boy she saw killed in a vision she had. Through Tony, Dan’s long ago imaginary friend, she reaches out and talks to Dan who in turn agrees to meet up with her. Abbie relays her fears of these people who killed the boy, led by a woman with one tooth called Rose The Hat. She knows their secrets and that they kill children like her for their steam which gives them all long eternal life. Fearing for her own life she gets the help of Dan and some of his friends to hunt out and destroy Rose et al before they can kill her.
Ok, so the story sounds ok in principle but for me it just didn’t get me hooked. There was moments where I had to groan, such as King’s insistence on talking about the past. If you haven’t read The Shining then fine, but for the majority of people who will have read it before this book, there is no need to do it. It’s a separate story so let’s please leave it that way. I find writers insistence on justifying their characters actions on another book quite annoying and a bit lazy to be honest, and then there is the mention of Charlie Manx from his son’s novel NOS4R2. Which on first appearance seems really good, tying two worlds together to create one is pretty good and you can get the feeling of being immersed in this world, but please, on second thoughts it came across as a plug for his son’s work and put me off a bit. King does tie worlds together quite well normally especially in Castle Rock, but this one just didn’t work.
The action in Doctor Sleep does pick up toward the end and the scene at Cloud Gap was awesome, but then when you get to the Roof of the World you think, is that it? Oh right, the story is over. Should they make a film out of this? I know currently King is getting good vibes because of the success of Under The Dome, but this book? I’m not so sure. I think any attempt to make a movie of this book would end up being a TV movie and die a death the way some of his other flop movies have done. Leave it alone. The story is over now, let us move on and await his next great piece of work, I’m sure he has at least one more great novel in him before he hangs up his boots so to speak. Is that my Shining coming through? We will have to wait and see.
Written on 3rd February 2014 by Arron.
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